Cesare Borgia Sword scabbard - 15th century

Italy (northern, made)
ca. 1498 (made)

V&A Museum London

This leather scabbard is decorated on the obverse side with scenes of worship and the sacrifice of a ram to the Goddess of Peace (or possibly Venus), placed above an imperial eagle flanked by scrolls and cornucopias, teminating in a series of marked out but uncompleted motifs. On the reverse side there are a number of CAESAR monograms and groups of three flames, the impresa (or personal emblem) of Cesare Borgia (ca.1475-1507), born in Rome, the illegitimate son of Pope Alexander VI (1431-1503), and created Cardinal of Valencia in 1493. This side is fitted with three leather tubes near the top, for straps to fasten the scabbard to the baldric.

In addition to these monograms and imprese, there are two cartouches, the upper one containing two amorini placed either side of a damaged coat of arms and the lower one the Goddess of Peace (or Venus). Near the top on the obverse side, the scabbard is inscribed MATERIAM SUPERABIT OPUS (toil will tame the material).

Marks and inscriptions
MATERIAM SUPERABIT OPUS. Effort will prevail over the material

Height: 83.5 cm, Width: 8.5 cm, Depth: 0.5 cm, Weight: 0.34 kg